August 22, 2022

Homilies on the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy - City and Citizens (Metr. Hierotheos of Nafpaktos)

 Homilies on the Great Litany of the Divine Liturgy

City and Citizens  

By Metropolitan Hierotheos of Nafpaktos and Agiou Vlasiou

The Divine Liturgy is held at a certain place and time, but it is held for the inhabited world, for the people who are traveling, who are sick, in general for the whole world. Thus, the liturgist exhorts the people: "For this City, every City, Country and the faithful who live in them, let us pray to the Lord." In other words, let us pray for this City or County, in which the Divine Liturgy is held, for every City and for every Country, but also for those who live in them with faith - that is to say, with Orthodox Christian faith - that is, the Orthodox Christians.

We were born in a certain place, a special Motherland that we love and care about, but we also pray for its progress. Social justice, peace, love, harmony, respect for the freedom of every person, but also social unity must prevail in this City. But we do not absolutize things, that is why we also pray for every City and Country. The love for our City and Homeland does not exclude every other City and Country of our fellow human beings.

With the Divine Liturgy every place is sanctified where it is celebrated, or at least we pray that God will give His Grace so that the members of the Church will be blessed. In another prayer this request is made concrete, so that God may send His Grace and protect the City and its inhabitants from wrath, earthquake, disease, hunger, civil war and sudden death. Also, in another prayer we pray for the authority that exists in every place, so that the believers also live a calm and peaceful life with all piety and modesty. Christians do not deny history and place, because otherwise their faith would be not based in reality. Christ with His incarnation entered history, took on human nature and deified it, transformed it. Since then we too respect historical place and historical time.

The Bishops take the name of a specific City as their title and thus sign the Minutes of the Ecumenical Synods. The seats of the Patriarchates and Autocephalous Churches have special embassies and privileges. Jerusalem is a glorious City, where Christ taught, was crucified and resurrected. And the New Jerusalem, Constantinople, is the City that was the Capital of the Roman Empire and where many Ecumenical Synods were convened and is now the seat of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.

Those who live in the cities with faith need the help and protection of God, because there are many dangers. Modern urban societies are de-Christianized, secularized, cut off from God. Many citizens do not go to church, even if they are baptized Christians, they do not adapt their lives to God's commandments. This in some way also affects faithful Christians, that is why they need God's help.

Despite the fact that we love our Country, the City or the Village where we live, we nevertheless know that we are going to the City above. The Apostle Paul speaks on the one hand of the "earthly dwelling of the tabernacle", that is, of the body, on the other hand of the "house not made by hands and eternal in the heavens" (2 Cor. 5:1-2). Our government is in heaven and from there we are directed, as the Apostle Paul says, "for our government is in heaven" (Phil. 3:20).

However, we love the City or County where we live, we are interested in peace and love prevailing in it, and we pray for it, because along with everything else peaceful conditions enable us to celebrate the Divine Liturgy freely and glorify God with all our hearts.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.